Today, we're making Baba Ganoush!
Baba ganoush is a Lebanese dip made from smoky roasted eggplant and tahini blended together to make a smooth and creamy dip. Consider it to be the first cousin of hummus but swapping out chickpeas for eggplant!
Let's start with the eggplant. We're going to slice the eggplant into ¾ inch slices, sprinkle them with salt to help draw out some of the excess moisture and bitterness, and let them sit for about a half hour before preparing them for the oven. I like to slice the eggplant into thick medallions before roasting it for a couple of reasons. One, it roasts faster because the pieces are smaller. And two, you get more surface area that has the opportunity to brown in the oven, and that golden color equals yummy flavor.
After the eggplant has had some time to sit, we'll pat off the water that's extracted from the eggplant, then give them a spritz of olive oil and line them up on a baking sheet. While the eggplant is baking, we're also going to do a quick roast on some garlic cloves. So, we'll leave them right in their skins, spritz them with oil, and let them roast at the same time as the eggplant.
Once the eggplant and garlic are finished roasting, we'll let them cool for a little bit. Then, we'll remove both the eggplant and garlic flesh from their respective skins, and we'll pop both into a food processor to wait for a couple extra special ingredients.
To the eggplant and garlic, we're going to add some creamy tahini, some fresh lemon juice, and some smoky spices like cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper. From there, we blend it all together until it's smooth and creamy, then let the dip cool down a little bit before it's time to dig in.
When it's time to serve, we'll add some garnishes to make this brown dip look extra beautiful. So, we'll spread the dip out into a bowl; give it a drizzle of olive; then finish the look with some fresh minced parsley for brightness, aleppo pepper for extra smokiness, and toasted sesame seeds to accentuate those sesame flavors that are already in the dip.
The best way to describe the flavor of this dip is to call it slightly smoky vegetable hummus. The texture and flavors are very similar to hummus. But the roasted eggplant, the dash of cumin, and the pinch of cayenne really help to take this dip to the next level.
I like to serve this dip with toasted pita or naan bread. But, you can also serve it alongside crackers or veggies or even as a spread for a wrap or a sandwich. There are so many possibilities here.
This super flavorful dip is an absolute must on your next appetizer spread, so I can't wait to hear what you think.
Enjoy, and let's eat!
- 1 ½ lbs eggplant (about 1 large eggplant)
- ½ tbsp + ¼ tsp salt, divided
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed but skin still on
- olive oil cooking spray
- 3 tbsp tahini
- 3 ½ tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- minced parsley, aleppo pepper, and toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
- pita bread, toasted naan, crackers, and/or chopped veggies, for serving
- Prepare the eggplant: Slice both ends off the eggplant. Slice eggplant to roughly ¾ inch slices. Line a large baking tray with paper towels. Sprinkle ½ tbsp salt on both sides of the cut eggplant. Let sit for 25-30 mins.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Blot both sides of the eggplant with a paper towel to absorb the moisture and extra salt. Remove the paper towels, and line the same baking tray with aluminum foil. Spray foil with olive oil cooking spray. Lay the eggplant slices in a single layer on the tray along with the garlic cloves still in their skin. Spritz the tops with olive oil spray. Roast for 25-30 mins until the eggplant starts to brown.
- When the eggplant and garlic are cool enough to handle, remove the roasted garlic cloves from the skin, and place in the bowl of a food processor. Run a spoon between the skin and the flesh of each slice of eggplant to remove the skin. Transfer the roasted eggplant to the food processor. Add tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and ¼ tsp salt. Blend until combined and smooth, about 30 seconds.
- Transfer dip to a serving bowl, garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of minced parsley, aleppo pepper, and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with pita, naan, crackers, or veggies!
- *There are different schools of thought when it comes to salting eggplant before roasting. Some say it takes out the bitterness. Some think roasted eggplant is fine without salting it first. I prefer to salt eggplant. I also prefer to slice the eggplant before roasting it as opposed to roasting it whole in order to get browned (flavorful) spots on more surface area of eggplant.
- *Keeping the garlic in its skin helps it to roast without burning. Smashing it first helps it slide right out when it's finished.
- *Aleppo pepper is a Middle Eastern ground pepper that's slightly spicy and slightly smoky. It's one of my favorite spices! If you don't have aleppo pepper, you could garnish with another sprinkle of sweet or smoked paprika.